A couple from Arkansas was forced from their camping spot in Big Bend National Park by a park ranger. They were told there was a state park nearby and he gave them what turned out to be a very poor map of the park and the couple got lost and nearly died before they found a spring.
The couple, Ricky Lee McFarland, 58 and Cathy Frye, 43, moved to Big Bend Ranch State Park as it was suggested to them. Parks department spokesman Mike Cox said, “It’s a bigger park and it’s a more rugged park. The map they received was small-scale. They needed one with more detail.”
The couple were familiar with the national park but had no previous experience with the state park, which Cox said was more rugged and much trickier. There are more accidents and fatalities there every year.
The couple made their way there on Oct. 2nd, set up camp, then went out bike riding. Their map was not very detailed and since they were unfamiliar with the park, they soon found themselves lost with only a couple bottles of water each, instead of the gallon, which is suggested. They had to spend the first night at a scenic overlook near Mexicano Falls.
The next day, while looking for the way back, they ventured into Arroyo Mexicano territory, a dangerous area for which they were poorly equipped. They couple lacked water, but fortunately they found a spring. They were able to replenish their water supply but had no tools to start a fire and as the night got colder, hypothermia set in.
On October 4th, Cathy found herself unable to go on and her husband set out to find help. Fortunately, he found his way back to the truck and he sped off to ranger headquarters to get help. They were able to get help from various groups and then they set off to find the wife. All told there were 37 in the search party.
Cathy had moved from where her husband had left her, but eventually, they found her on October 6th. The crew cleared an area to land a helicopter and Cathy was flown to University Hospital in El Paso. Her husband suffered only from exhaustion.
The couple were very fortunate to survive their ordeal.